VA hospital campus growing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Growing campus
The Hefner VA Medical Center has two Centers of Excellence — one for long term or geriatric care, the other for mental health care.
They’re both undergoing expansion, as are many other areas of the hospital campus.
Here’s a rundown:
• Geriatrics: A $8 million hospice unit with 12 beds is being built adjacent to Building 42. That will require reconfiguring 42’s atrium, which will get a “town square” feel, with shops and activities. A six-bed “hoptel” will be built in the basement. In the next phase, renovations will create private patient rooms and baths.
• Mental health: Workers are constructing a new building that will connect what have been separate inpatient and outpatient buildings for mental health care, Buildings 4 and 11. The new structure will house inpatients. A $10.6 million renovation has started inside the two existing buildings, starting with the psychiatric intensive care unit.
• Emergency department: This department has completed a $1 million expansion, with more space for the waiting room, triage and assessment. A new police hub monitors the new entrance on the side of Building 2 and the waiting area.
• Eye care: Near completion are changes in the eye and ophthalmology area in Building 3, at a cost of $799,118. It now has a centralized reception/check-in area and more exam rooms, and the Low Vision Clinic is now on the same floor.
• Apartments: Medical residents and interns will soon be able to move into new apartments in Building 13, completely renovated last year at a cost of $1 million.
• Oncology: A wing in Building 21 is being renovated to offer chemo infusion, and the hospital is working with Wake Forest University to get support for oncologists. The $481,715 project will have exam rooms, doctors offices, infusion areas for 24 and a conference and training room.
The new unit should be up and running this summer. Veterans who live more than three hours away may still be referred to community facilities for treatment, but Russo estimates about half of the number who were formerly being treated outside the VA system will now be able to get chemotherapy at the Hefner VA.
• Private rooms: New and renovated patient rooms in the medical/surgical areas have been made private, each with its own bath.
• Learning Center: The Building 6 auditorium where the center’s namesake, Congressman Bill Hefner, used to sing is being developed into a collaborative learning area, with a hub and flexible spaces, at a cost of $1.1 million.
• Canteen Store: The space for the store in Building 5 (now temporarily located in Building 6) will be doubled to 2,500 square feet at a cost of $150,000.
• Infrastructure: Upgrading elevators in Buildings 3 and 4 cost $1.8 million; replacing underground water lines cost $2 million; replacing heating and air conditioning systems in Building 5 cost $1.5 million.
Director Paul Russo is also responsible for outpatient clinics in Hickory, Charlotte and Winston-Salem.
Two new clinics will break ground next year, one to replace the Winston-Salem clinic and one to work in conjunction of the Charlotte clinic.
The VA Medical Center sends veterans to community hospitals and doctors for some procedures, Director Paul Russo says. The VA doesn’t do open heart surgery or neurosurgery, for example. In those cases, the first choice is to refer patients to the Asheville and Durham VA medical centers for that level of care. Community hospitals are the next option.